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By Nick Pellegrino for East County Magazine

Photo courtesy Comedy Central

April 17, 2017 (Los Angeles) - Comedian Doug Benson is nothing close to an overnight success, yet after 20 years in show business, the former Grossmont College student is starting to gain notoriety after recently claiming the Tournament of Champion on the self-admitted, fake game show @midnight.

Now in its third season on The Comedy Channel, host Chris Hardwick poises questions and situations to a panel of three rising comedians, who respond with jokes for answers, narrowing the group down to one winner --selected by the audience -- each episode.

The program is aimed at "millennials" (generally, those who reached adulthood during the 21st Century) regarding social media and the internet.

Benson, 54, plays a character who appears high -- non-millennials might remember Foster Brooks (in real life, a non-drinker)  who always appeared drunk on NBC's The Dean Martin Comedy Hour or his roasts -- with one interesting  caveat: is Benson actually high on marijuana?

Similar to television's Jeopardy!, which is filmed in a nearby soundstage, the best of the best come together for its own end-of-the-season championship.

Over the first week of April, semifinals of three comedians were held Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday, then the three finalists participating in Thursday's Tournament of Champions final.

Benson not only won the first-place trophy, he is also the program's all-time champion, winning on 20 episodes.

Because of his popularity on @midnight,  and a pair of admired podcasts --  Doug Loves Movies podcast along with his weekly marijuana video podcast show Getting Doug with High. -- Comedy Central  recently debuted Benson his own marijuana-themed show, playing the judge on the new marijuana-based court series, The High Court with Doug Benson.

Griffins Gold

Benson joins other Grossmont College graduates who also made a mark in show business.

In the 1980s, David Leisure was on several prime time programs, yet might be better known for selling cars as the exaggerating and lying character, "Joe Isuzu."

Dat Phan, an immigrant from Vietnam who graduated from West Hills High, was the original winner on NBC's Last Comic Standing when it debuted in 2003.

And in 2011, Priscilla Mendez was a notable player on MTV's The Real World, when the reality show was filmed in San Diego.

Notes -- @midnight is produced at what is now known as Hollywood Center Studios on historic Stage 2, where I Love Lucy became the first prime-time comedy shot on film and produced before a live audience originating from the West Coast. The facility of 12 soundstages will celebrate its centennial in 2019.


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